Forest fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods are just a handful of the natural disasters you might have to face. How high your risk is of being involved in a natural disaster varies by location. For example, if your country has a high United Nations’ World Risk Index rating, the more likely you’ll suffer from a natural disaster. How well your area prepares for disasters and the quality control of structures are two factors that play into the damaging effects of a disaster.
Still, there are some things you can do to prepare in case there is a disaster. These tips allow you to mitigate the risk involved.
1. Create a Family Emergency Plan
The U.S. government advises families to get an emergency plan in place. An emergency plan includes multiple evacuation routes, information on local shelters and a way for everyone to stay in touch if the worst happens. Knowing your family is safe is a top priority during a natural disaster. Social media sites, such as Facebook, now have a feature where you can mark yourself safe if your location is in the middle of an emergency area. Use the app to get the word out even when you can’t get a call to go through.
2. Back up Important Files and Photos
Well before a natural disaster strikes, you should back up all your photos, videos and important files and place them on an external drive. Then, put this drive in a secure location for safekeeping, preferably away from your home or in a safe box of some sort.
3. Know Where Main Shutoff Valves Are
You may need to shut off gas, electric and water mains to your home. Know where main shutoffs are, and be prepared to turn them off if necessary. One of the first things experts advise doing when you move into a home is locating shutoffs. Even if a natural disaster doesn’t strike, you may have burst pipes or any number of other issues that require a quick shutoff.
4. Pack a Bag
Pack a bag with some basic supplies you’ll need to get through a few days after the disaster. It may take time for help to arrive in the form of food, water and shelter, so how will you survive in the meantime? Pack non-perishable items, such as protein bars, canned meat and dried nuts and fruit. Make sure you have enough drinking water for every person in your home, and don’t forget to pack enough water for your pets as well.
5. Prepare Your Pets
Speaking of pets, you need to make sure you have a safe way to transport your furry friends, who will probably be just as scared as you are during an evacuation. You may not have a lot of time to gather everyone up and get somewhere safe. Tornadoes, for example, can reach speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, cutting a swath of destruction through a community. Know where carriers and leashes are, and be ready to grab them and get your pets to safety along with the rest of your family.
6. Sign up for Warning Systems
Most communities have some type of warning system based on common disasters in that area. For instance, in Kansas, you might listen for a tornado warning siren, but in Hawaii, you might deal with a tsunami or volcano eruption. Sign up for your community’s warnings.
7. Save Phone Battery
If the power goes out, your phone may struggle with the charge left on it. If there’s a hurricane or tornado forecast for your area, fully charge all electronic mobile devices before the storm hits. Invest in backup power banks to recharge devices. Home generators are costly, but when you have a power outage, they are incredibly beneficial. You can extend the life of your battery by switching to low-power mode and turning off features that run in the background, such as GPS, location services, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
8. Keep Cash on Hand
If other businesses can’t open, your bank won’t be open, either. Keep a minimum of $50 per person in small bills and some loose change in your emergency supplies. If something forces you to flee, you’ll be able to purchase food or other supplies with the cash.
9. Practice Remaining Calm and Collected
You can’t help anyone else if you are so upset that you’re in meltdown mode. Practice remaining calm in emergency situations. Think through how you’ll handle various potential emergency scenarios. During emergencies, people look for someone to lead them and get them to safety.
Disaster Strikes Everywhere
No matter where you live, there is some level of risk in your area. Even though you may never be a victim of a disaster, preparation ensures you’ll know what to do if one does occur.